In acknowledgement of World Refugee Day on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a statement honouring the “resilience and strength of refugees and displaced people” and acknowledging “the profound hardships they face”. This statement comes after it was revealed yesterday by a UNHCR report that in 2018 Canada resettled the largest number of refugees out of any other country.
The global report from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) showed that Canada took in 28,100 of the 92,400 refugees who were resettled in 25 countries during 2018; the United States was second with around 22,900 refugees. As well as this, the report also showed that Canada gave citizenship to a significantly large number of people who arrived in the country as refugees; a total of 18,000 people in 2018.
With these numbers, Canada was determined to be the country that gave the second largest number of refugees citizenship. The report suggested that this shows the country is doing well by integrating refugees properly. The 18,000 people that gained citizenship in 2018 is an increase over 2017, in which just over 10,000 refugees were given citizenship to the country.
In a statement Thursday, Trudeau said “People who have been driven from their homes face immense loss, barriers, and trauma – both old and new. They carry with them memories, dreams, and hope for a better future.”
The Prime Minister also acknowledged the “moral responsibility” that Canadians had to help refugees get a fresh start. He said “As Canadians, we know first-hand the contributions they make. Over the generations, refugees have helped build the strong, open, and prosperous Canada we know today.”
Although the UNHCR report shows that Canada resettled more refugees than any other country in 2018, the report also noted that Canada did not receive nearly as many new asylum seekers as other countries did. Michael Casasola, the UNHCR Canada's senior resettlement officer, noted that "Only 16 per cent of the world's refugees are in developed states."
The data in the UNHCR report shows that while a large number of refugees in Canada caused significant backlogs in processing claims and problems finding housing in Canada’s cities, the disruption is minimal in comparison with other countries, where millions of refugees await processing and resettlement elsewhere.
It was Turkey that hosted the largest number of refugees worldwide in 2018, with 3.7 million people in 2018, while Pakistan hosted 1.4 million. While many of these millions are not yet resettled, Casasola notes that "We always have to be careful in certain discourse globally in terms of trying to present that somehow we're inundated when other countries bear much larger responsibilities that they take on when refugees cross their border."
Trudeau finished his statement today by calling on Canadians to stand with refugees, displaced people, and all those who are forced to leave home behind.
Trudeau said “How we treat the most vulnerable among us defines who we are – as individuals, as countries, and as a global community. Let’s choose justice over fear and compassion over division – because to see ourselves in each other, all we have to do is look.”